Linda Woodward has been raising babies in Boscawen for decades – Low Calorie Diets Tips

For more than four decades, Linda Woodward has been caring for New Hampshire babies who need a safe place to stay.

While most 70-year-old grandparents might breathe a sigh of relief at not having to stay up all night with a newborn, 71-year-old Woodward has continued to open her home in Boscawen to the youngest of foster children.

She adopted her first child in 1979 and was approved as a foster parent in 1980 by her late husband. Since then, Woodward has mentored more than 160 children, with a 16-year gap when she worked as a teacher. Your own children and grandchildren are not included.

When she called in May, she was taking care of three children under the age of three, who could be heard in the background. Woodward’s willingness to accept newborns is especially important since most daycares do not accept children under the age of three months.

Because Woodward is retired, she can stay home with the babies all day and get up in the middle of the night to care for them.

“Old people don’t sleep through the night. I don’t sleep well, so it’s no big deal for me to give a bottle, cuddle a little, and go back to bed,” Woodward said.

The longest she has cared for a child was six and a half years. The shortest was only an hour and a half. Her favorite part of caring is providing the love and support that allows a frightened child to “thrive.”

“I could actually watch it happen,” she said.

Because the children Woodward sponsors have experienced abuse or neglect, some children come with hyperspecific fears and trauma that she has learned to accept. A boy had a meltdown when Woodward parked her car under a tree and was afraid of large houseplants.

When children tell her stories of abuse, she documents what they tell her and reports the information. She tries to make the children feel safe by bringing them food they like or for older children by letting them cook with her.

Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye to children she loved, whether they’re going back to their birth families or going to an adoptive home. “I had several children that I became very, very close with and it was really painful to see them move on. I was happy but it hurt,” Woodward said. Rarely will a birth parent approach her for a visit and say that a child misses Woodward.

Over the decades she has fostered them, Woodward has seen some changes in the practice. One is the rise of Facebook foster parent groups, which allow geographically dispersed foster parents to share advice, children’s clothing and, more recently, baby food.

Woodward called the formula shortage “scary”. She switched one baby to solids earlier than usual to avoid being left without formula.

Another long-term shift has been an ever-swinging pendulum of policy changes, which Woodward says alternates between prioritizing moving children quickly to more permanent homes and providing birth parents with more time and resources to care for their children themselves .

“Every once in a while I get one where I disagree with the court’s decision on where the child goes, and that’s very frustrating and worrisome,” Woodward said.

Children go into foster care when the state Department of Children, Youth and Families determines that their safety is at risk where they are and there is no other relative to care for them.

The more families there are caring for children, the more likely it is that the children can remain in their home community, thereby limiting the disruption to life caused by a long commute or a change of school.

There are 1,100 children in New Hampshire in “home care” — foster care, institutional care, and living with relatives. There are 650 licensed nursing homes in the state.

“People should know that you don’t have to own a house, you don’t have to be married, you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be a stay-at-home parent,” Woodward said. “There are many opportunities.”

New Hampshire Department of Health spokesman Jake Leon wrote in an email to the monitor that foster families are always needed to ensure that children can stay close to their friends, schools and communities. Foster families who can take in large groups of siblings, children with disabilities or older adolescents are particularly in demand.

“Thankfully we haven’t seen an increase in the number of children in need of foster care during the pandemic, but it has made recruitment and retention much more difficult,” Leon wrote in an email to the monitor.” As any parent can attest, parenting got harder. As a result, there is an even greater need for foster parents today than before the pandemic.”

In general, Woodward said prospective foster parents need to be able to be flexible and go with the flow. Though she now has three children in her care, she could end the day with just two — or four.

“My best advice to new foster parents is to try all age groups until you find one that’s right for you,” Woodward said. “For me it’s the little ones.”

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